Living and exercising in the southeastern U . S . for the last 35 years has made me acutely aware of the effects that heat and humidity can have on athletic performance . Pickleball courts on average are 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the air temperature . Dehydration is a chief concern in such conditions . It can harm your health as well as your playing performance .
Simply defined , dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in . Water makes up about 60 % of body weight and is involved in almost every process essential for life . Even a slight fluid imbalance can cause serious health concerns because water is needed to cool the body and aid in energy production . Water is also the basis for all bodily fluids , including blood and digestive juices . It is involved in the absorption of nutrients and waste elimination .
During pickleball , water is lost through sweating and breathing . Playing in high temperatures and humidity can cause fluid losses of up to 2.5 quarts ( 2.4 liters ) per hour . High humidity also inhibits perspiration from evaporating rapidly and thus cooling the body .
Even mild dehydration with a 1-2 % loss of body weight can cause weakness , fatigue , nausea , loss of coordination , dizziness and gastric problems . A 5 % loss can result in heat exhaustion , which is characterized by nausea , dizziness and fainting . Severe dehydration , defined as a loss of 9-15 % of body weight , is a lifethreatening medical emergency .
Mild-to-moderate dehydration can usually be treated simply by drinking a sufficient amount . To remain hydrated you must drink before , during and after playing . Relying on thirst as an indicator of your body ’ s need for water is a poor method because thirst lags behind actual dehydration . A better method of assessing the level of hydration is to note the color of your urine . If it ’ s dark yellow or amber you are most likely dehydrated . If it ’ s clear or straw colored you are wellhydrated .